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Update on the Lake County Wildfire Relief Fund

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

When the Rocky and Jerusalem Fires hit Lake County, North Coast Opportunities (NCO) and MendoLake Credit Union (MLCU) decided to create the Lake County Wildfire Relief Fund to help those impacted. In a few short weeks they worked together to raise funds, advertise the effort, write and translate applications to the fund, create a managing committee to review applications, and verify the losses of those who applied. As of last week, the fund contained over $300,000 and the committee had voted to disburse over $96,000 and checks have been mailed to fire victims. 

With the significant impact of the Valley Fire, those relief efforts continued seamlessly. “With all of the processes to collect and distribute funds already in place, it was easy to hit the ground running,” says NCO Executive Assistant Elizabeth Archer.

The purpose of the Lake County Wildfire Relief Fund is to help those impacted by the fires take care of the immediate and unexpected expenses incurred as a result of evacuation and the loss of property. The fund is especially helpful for the many under and uninsured residents hit hard by this tragic wildfire experience.

The Lake County Wildfire Relief Fund is meant to be a nimble operation and provide relief in real time to those who need it most. According to Carolyn Welch, NCO’s CFO, “Our intention is to get the funds out as quickly as possible to help with immediate needs.” 

Each application is different, therefore the amount given varies. However, any Lake County resident from the impacted areas can apply. 

“MLCU is gratified by the amazing response from our credit union members as well as from the many folks from both in and out of our area that have dug deep and showed both their love and caring for the many victims of the tragic fires of the past month or more,” said Richard Cooper, MLCU President and CEO. “We are honored to be able to assist in the effort and thankful for the ongoing partnership with North Coast Opportunities that allowed us to get this process moving so quickly.  We are committed to continuing to work toward a full recovery for all the affected areas of Lake County.”

Many donors have contributed substantial amounts of money, and even small donations contribute to the whole.

“Our hearts go out to our own team members who lost their homes as well as the countless others who experienced loss,” said Cooper. “We hope that the funds collected here can somehow jump start the road to recovery – in so many ways.” 

As of today, the official damage assessment includes a total of 1,910 structures including: 1,238 single family homes, 23 multi-family homes or structures, 64 commercial structures, and 585 other structures including sheds, garages, and small out buildings. This damage ranks the Valley Fire as the third most devastating fire in California history.

The applications for relief funds continue to come in daily and more funds are needed. If you want to donate to this important community restoration and relief fund, donations can be made by writing a check and taking it to any Mendo-Lake Credit Union bank location or by a secure on-line donation from the NCO website homepage (www.ncoinc.org). The link on the NCO website takes donors to a secure PayPal page. It is of significance that NCO and MLCU do not take any administration fees so that all donations go directly to those in need. 

If you would like to apply for fire relief funds, simply download an application at www.ncoinc.org and follow the instructions. Applications are available in English and Spanish.

For more information on how to donate and how to apply for funds, contact NCO CFO Carolyn Welch: cwelch@ncoinc.org.